SPEAKERS & LEADERS

Lenny Duncan

Keynote

Writer. Witness. Agitator.

Lenny is the author of United States of Grace & Dear Church. Born on 62nd and Race in West Philly, he now lives in the Pacific Northwest. Lenny is a nationally recognized writer, speaker, preacher, thinker, and agitator who has centered most of his theological work in the task of dismantling White Supremacy in Christian community.

Lenny is just another Black queer writer trying to survive America. He loves hip hop, tattoos, Jesus, liberation, and most likely you. Learn more about Lenny and his work.

Christine Hong

Keynote

Christine J. Hong is Assistant Professor of Educational Ministry at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. Her interests include anti-colonial and decolonial approaches to religious and interreligious education and life. Hong’s interests also include Asian American spiritualties, and the spiritual and theological formation of children and adolescents among BIPOC communities. Hong is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and has spent time as both as a religious educator and youth and young adult minister in New York and Southern California. She is the author of numerous articles, chapters in books, and two monographs, the first is, Youth, Identity, and Gender in the Korean American Church, published by Palgrave, and the second is, Decolonial Futures: Intercultural and Interreligious Intelligence for Theological Education forthcoming from Lexington Press. Dr. Hong has received a BA from Univ. of Washington, a ThM and MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a PhD from Claremont School of Theology.

Bertram Johnson

Preacher

For nearly three decades, Rev. Bertram Johnson has served churches, non-profit and faith-based organizations dedicated to social justice, spiritual care, and public health. He has worked nationally in HIV/AIDS research education through Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, promoting awareness and access among communities most disproportionately impacted by the virus. He also has years of experience directing care programs for people living with HIV, mental health concerns, addiction, and as an oncology chaplain. Bertram currently works as Interfaith Minister, providing spiritual direction for seminarians, at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He also serves the PCUSA as a coach with the Vital Congregations Initiative and helps raise awareness of vaccine research through the Faith Initiative of the COVID-19 Prevention Network. He was on staff at Middle Collegiate Church as Executive Minister for Care, Worship & the Arts and The Riverside Church in the City of New York as Minister of Justice, Advocacy, & Change. He is a member of the Presbytery of New York City.

Bertram is the first openly gay African American to be ordained as a pastor in the PC(USA) and shares deep gratitude for all who work to make the Church reflect the breadth of God’s love and justice. He is a member of the NEXT Church Strategy Team, a coauthor of the Sarasota Statement, and contributor to various devotionals. A native Floridian, he holds a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Master of Social Work from Rutgers University.

Bertram is passionate about tennis and the performing arts. As an Enneagram 4, he gets joy from traveling, exploring different cultures and cuisine. He loves dance and is moved by show tunes, house, and gospel music. He and his wonderful husband, Jason, reside in Brooklyn, NY.

Shavon Starling-Louis

Preacher

Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis is a compassionate Child of God curious and excited to serve God and the family of God while celebrating and midwiving alongside others like you, a more just, gracious, and authentic Church in the world. 

Her ministry begins at home where she is a devoted mother to a talented preschooler Kam and a creative middle schooler Sariah as well as the wife to an insightful armed services veteran and seminarian, Kirk.  

Shavon grew up in St. Petersburg, FL. She serves as the pastor of Meadowlake Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Charlotte. She graduated with honors from St. Leo University with a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA with a Masters in Divinity with honors distinction. 

As an enneagram 2, she is a generous and gifted encourager, teacher, and preacher. Recently, God has offered her opportunities to share liberating good news through faith formation curriculum writing, several published articles, workshop leadership, 2018 Montreat Youth Conference, 2019 Mo-Ranch Women’s Conference, and the 2020 Montreat Preaching Series. 

Shavon is passionate about the intersection of worship, anti-racism/anti-oppressive practices, art, and interculturalism. She has seen at this junction fully embodied Christian faith, joyful leadership development, and creative evangelism spring forth. 

Since 2014, she has been dedicated to the NEXT Church community and movement as a strategy team member, coordinating team leader, and co-chair. She has also emerged as a key facilitator and workshop leader for the impactful ministry assessment tool Cultivated Ministry.

Otis Moss III

Preacher

With civil rights advocacy in his DNA, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III built his ministry on community advancement and social justice activism. As Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Ill., Dr. Moss practices and preaches a Black theology that unapologetically calls attention to the problems of mass incarceration, environmental justice and economic inequality. He is married to his college sweetheart, Monica Brown Moss, and is the father of Elijah Wynton and Makayla Elon.

Tanya Watkins

Speaker

Tanya Watkins is a mother, writer, Black womanist, community organizer, and prison abolitionist originally from Chicago’s South Side. She studied writing and the teaching of writing at Columbia College Chicago with the intent of bringing innovative arts programs to schools in low-income communities of color. She is a former South Suburban Chicago elected official and served as a Presidential Delegate in 2016. Tanya began as a leader with Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) in 2010, a multi-issue, faith-based, social justice organization that assists residents to build power in the Chicago Southland. Since being with the organization, Tanya has led a multitude of campaigns demanding criminal justice reform and police accountability in Chicago; most notably, heading up a series of strategic actions targeting former Cook County State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez in 2015. Currently, Tanya is the Executive Director of SOUL and on the Executive Board of the BlackRoots Alliance.

Lee Catoe

Speaker

Rev. Lee Catoe (he/him/his) is the Managing Editor of Unbound and the Associate for Young Adult Social Witness for the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy for the Presbyterian Church USA. Alongside Destini Hodges, he co-hosts the faith and justice talk show Just Talk Live. He is also a graduate of Presbyterian College (B.S.) and Vanderbilt Divinity School (MDiv). Lee is originally from rural South Carolina and currently lives with his husband Will and dog Rupert in Nashville, TN.

Destini Hodges

Speaker

Destini Hodges is the Interim Coordinator for the Young Adult Volunteer Program for the Presbyterian Church (USA) where the organization provides services opportunities to young adults ages 19 to 30 for a “year of service for a lifetime of change”. She is currently a first year Ministry of Divinity student at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Being a lifelong Presbyterian from Capital Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg, PA; Hodges has served as a Ruling Elder, a member on Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concern’s, a member on Mission Responsibility Through Investment and as the Diversity Coordinator for the Presbyterian Women of Carlisle. Graduating with her bachelor’s degree in political science from Pennsylvania State University has shaped her to be a public servant at an early age. Her passion for youth and young adults led her to run for office in 2011 for the Harrisburg School Board at the age of 20 where she was selected and served for four years and later ran for Harrisburg City Council in 2016 where she was elected and served until accepting the position with the Presbyterian Mission Agency in World Mission. She has sat on a diverse fashion of local boards such as the Junior Board for YWCA of Harrisburg and Young Professional Louisville Urban League.

Catherine Neelly Burton

Speaker

Catherine Neelly Burton serves as the pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Wichita, KS. Wichita is a city of about half a million people, but most of Kansas is rural or deep rural. Catherine loves to learn and share stories about how church happens in rural Kansas. She tires of the ways rural America is written off, or over generalized, in the national narrative when it comes to politics, church, and most anything. Catherine has lived in Kansas for ten years and loves to explore the state with her husband and daughter.

Susan Etherton

Speaker

Susan Etherton is a Ruling Elder at Arlington Presbyterian Church, in Arlington, Virginia, President of the Arlington Presbyterian Church Corporation, and lead layperson for their Redevelopment/Affordable Housing effort. Susan has been a member at Arlington Presbyterian for over 35 years and has served in numerous capacities. In her professional career, Susan has over 18 years in multifamily real estate development including for-profit work with Oxford Realty Financial Group, Bethesda, MD, and affordable housing work with Community Preservation and Development Corp., Washington, DC, where she served as Vice President of Acquisitions.

Susan is trained in Spiritual Direction and currently offers this ministry through a private practice. Susan has served on the board of directors of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, a non-profit fostering formation in contemplative living and leadership.

Susan is married to Jonathan Etherton and they have two adult children. Susan finds joy in family and in nature photography. Susan loves the outdoors, birds and Scrabble.

Ashley Goff

Speaker

Ashley Goff is the pastor at Arlington Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Arlington, VA and ordained in the United Church of Christ. Ashley’s family has origins in southern and central Ohio, going back to parts of Europe. Ashley graduated from Union Theological Seminary in NYC where she fell in love with the art of liturgy and the ways of organizing community.  She lives with deep gratitude for several communities which have formed her along the way: Denison University, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, the Open Door Community, Rikers Island jail NYC, and Church of the Pilgrims (PCUSA).

Ashley finds life in relationships, vinyasa yoga, working out, reading murder mysteries, and sleep. Ashley and her family live in the Green Valley neighborhood in Arlington, VA.

Chris Dela Cruz

Speaker

Reverend Chris Dela Cruz is the Associate Pastor of Youth, Young Adults, and Community Engagement at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Portland, Oregon, and a member of the BIPOC Faith Leaders and Laity Council in the Pacific Northwest. He previously served at First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, a church building an affordable housing complex and community center, and where he participated in community organizing around housing, youth, and other local issues. He has written for NEXT Church, Presbyterian Outlook, and other outlets. Prior to being an ordained pastor, he was a journalist for the Star-Ledger in New Jersey.

Paul Vasile

Worship Leader

Paul Vasile is a freelance church musician, consultant, and composer based in St. Louis, Missouri. A multitalented musician and dynamic worship leader, he is committed to building, renewing, and re-shaping faith communities through music and liturgy.

As the Executive Director of Music that Makes Community, he is passionate about modeling and sharing leadership practices that sustain the musical and spiritual life of faith communities. He provides support and resources to an international network of leaders committed to holistic learning and reflection, grounded in a theology of welcome and generosity. Additionally, he serves as Director of Music at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, where he directs the Seminary Choir, collaborates with faculty and student worship leaders, and serves as a resource to the wider faith community.

Paul is an inspiring teacher and has been a guest lecturer and worship leader at the Candler School of Theology, General Theological Seminary (NYC), the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Princeton Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary (NYC), and Vanderbilt Divinity School. He has also curated notable concert series, arts events, and educational programs exploring the intersection of music and spirituality.

Committed to expressing and exploring faith in new ways, Paul composes sacred music that expands and enriches the church’s language of praise and prayer. His music is represented in several denominational songbooks and resources, including Glory to God, All Creation Sings, and the forthcoming Mennonite hymnal Voices Together.

Landon Whitsitt

Speaker

Landon Whitsitt is Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City, recently serving as Executive of the Synod of Mid-America and Producer of Theocademy. Landon is committed to metanoia as a personal spiritual practice, and wants to help everyone know the joy of seeing the world in new ways.